February 4, 2019, Yerevan
On Saturday, February 2, 2019, the journalists accredited by the National Assembly were not allowed into the building of the parliament where an in-camera session of the ‘My Step’ faction with the participation of the Prime Minister and several high-ranking officials from the executive was proceeding. The media representatives demanded for clarifications in response to which the head of the NA media and public relations department and several MPs explained that the ban was explained by the non-working day, then – by the in-camera nature of the session and finally – by the absence of an invitation by the faction.
In the meantime, none of the offered explanations can be considered acceptable or convincing. First, if an important discussion is being held in the NA on a non-working day, then the right to enter the building of the parliament has to also apply to the accredited journalists. Second, journalists can point to numerous examples when they performed their duties in the same parliament during late non-working hours of the day. Third, the fact that the session was in-camera, did not mean that journalists should have been prevented from entering the building and receive comments from the MPs in the lobby. And fourth, accredited journalists do not need a special invitation for this.
We, the undersigned journalistic organisations, take note of the Facebook post of the leader of the ‘My Step’ faction dated 3 February 2019 to the effect that no one had been instructed to prevent the journalists from entering the building, that this was a misunderstanding for which she offered her apologies. Nevertheless, we assess this incident as an ungrounded restriction of the activities of the media representatives and call on the NA leadership to:
- Officially extend their apologies to the journalists for the artificially imposed ban;
- Assign the competent units of the NA administration to review the journalists’ accreditation procedure, as well as other normative acts concerning their activities inherited from the previous parliament;
- Obligate the NA administration to create more favourable conditions for journalistic activity in the NA and prevent similar ungrounded restrictions from happening in the future.
COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
“ASPAREZ” JOURNALISTS CLUB
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER OF ARMENIA
MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE – ARMENIA
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE
JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
GORIS PRESS CLUB